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Scalloped Potatoes vs Au Gratin

If you enjoy potatoes, it’s likely that you’ve heard of scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin. Although at first look these two dishes might appear to be similar, there are actually some significant variances that distinguish them. The fundamentals of scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes, as well as their distinctions and common misunderstandings, will all be covered in this essay.

american dinner, au gratin potatoes

The traditional comfort food scalloped potatoes is produced by piling potatoes that have been finely cut in a baking dish and baking them in a creamy sauce.

Butter, flour, and seasonings like garlic or herbs may also be used to make the sauce, which is normally made with milk or cream.

A rich, creamy dish that may be served as a side dish or a main course is the end product.

On the other hand, au gratin potatoes are comparable to scalloped potatoes with the important exception of cheese.

Potatoes au gratin are covered with grated cheese (usually Gruyere) and baked until crisp and golden in addition to the creamy sauce.

It has a slightly distinct flavor and texture than scalloped potatoes as a result, making it a favorite among cheese aficionados.

Key Takeaways

  • Scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes are two classic potato dishes that are similar but have some key differences.
  • Scalloped potatoes are made with thinly sliced potatoes baked in a creamy sauce, while au gratin potatoes are topped with cheese in addition to the creamy sauce.
  • Choosing between scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes comes down to personal preference and the occasion.

The Basics of Scalloped Potatoes and Au Gratin

If you enjoy potatoes, you’ve probably heard of scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin.

Homemade Creamy Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese and Spices

These two dishes are frequently mistaken for one another, but they have important distinctions that help to distinguish them.

To help you comprehend the fundamentals of each dish, we’ll describe scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes in this section.

Definition of Scalloped Potatoes

In order to make scalloped potatoes, thinly sliced potatoes are covered with milk or cream and baked until soft.

scalloped potatoes in a rustic iron skillet

The scalloped edges of the baking dish that the potatoes are usually baked in gave the dish its name.

In addition to the standard seasonings of salt, pepper, and nutmeg, onions and cheese are occasionally added to scalloped potatoes.

Definition of Au Gratin

Scalloped potatoes with cheese and breadcrumbs on top are known as au gratin potatoes.

Potato gratin (casserole) with cream, cheese and parsley in baking dish

The dish is baked to create a lovely crust on top of the creamy potatoes, with the cheese melting and the breadcrumbs becoming crispy.

The French word “gratiné,” which means brown or crust, is where the English word “au gratin” originates.

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The use of cheese and breadcrumbs in au gratin potatoes distinguishes it most significantly from scalloped potatoes in terms of distinctions.

Au gratin potatoes are made with milk or cream and grated cheese as opposed to scalloped potatoes, which are often served with just milk or cream.

In addition, au gratin potatoes have a crispier texture than scalloped potatoes because of the cheese and breadcrumbs that are placed on top of them.

In conclusion, potato recipes that are delicious, simple to prepare, and appropriate for any occasion include scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin.

While they have some similarities, au gratin potatoes differ from scalloped potatoes in that they contain cheese and breadcrumbs.

Key Differences

There are a few significant distinctions between au gratin potatoes and scalloped potatoes that make them distinct from one another.

Scalloped potatoes, potato casserole with the addition of herbs

Although both meals are made with potatoes that have been finely sliced and a creamy sauce, there are some minor distinctions between the two that are important to note.

Cheese

The addition of cheese to au gratin potatoes is one of the main distinctions between them and scalloped potatoes.

Cheese can be used in both recipes, but it’s usually only added to potatoes au gratin.

The meal is frequently topped with this cheese, which is then broiled to create a crisp, golden crust.

On the other hand, cheese is often left out of scalloped potatoes.

Creaminess

The degree of creaminess in the two recipes is another distinction.

While au gratin potatoes are often prepared with a richer, more decadent sauce that contains cheese and occasionally even heavy cream, scalloped potatoes are frequently prepared with a straightforward cream sauce.

In comparison to scalloped potatoes, au gratin potatoes may be a little more indulgent and filling as a result.

Thickness of Potatoes

Another significant distinction between the two recipes is the thickness of the potato pieces.

Both meals employ thinly sliced potatoes, but au gratin potatoes are frequently cooked with somewhat thicker slices.

Scalloped potatoes have a somewhat more solid bite than their au gratin counterparts, which can change the texture of the dish.

Crispy Topping

The topping is yet another significant distinction between scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin.

Although a crispy topping is frequently used to finish both dishes, the technique used to do so can vary.

Scalloped potatoes may be finished with breadcrumbs or a dusting of Parmesan cheese to achieve a similar effect to au gratin potatoes, which are often broiled to create a crispy, golden crust.

Overall, both scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes are tasty and appropriate for any occasion, despite some minor variations.

You can’t go wrong with either recipe, whether you favor the creamy richness of potatoes au gratin or the straightforward, traditional flavors of scalloped potatoes.

Common Misconceptions

There are a few widespread myths about potatoes in au gratin and scalloped potatoes. You may have heard the following things, which aren’t totally true:

Hearty potato gratin with parmesan cheese, cream and delicious cured bacon

Misconception 1: Scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes are the same thing.

Despite their similarities, these two dishes are not the same.

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Typically, a cream-based sauce is used to make scalloped potatoes, whereas a cheese-based sauce is used to make au gratin potatoes.

Additionally, au gratin potatoes are topped with cheese, but scalloped potatoes are sometimes baked with breadcrumbs on top.

Misconception 2: The terms “scalloped” and “au gratin” refer to the way the potatoes are cut.

This is not exactly true. While the method of cutting the potatoes may differ between meals, this is not what sets scalloped potatoes apart from au gratin potatoes.

The type of sauce used in the two dishes is the primary distinction.

Misconception 3: Scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes are unhealthy.

Both dishes are undoubtedly decadent, but they don’t have to be unhealthy.

There are numerous methods to prepare these dishes using healthier ingredients or by altering the recipe.

You might, for instance, use greens or broccoli or use low-fat milk or cheese.

Misconception 4: Scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes are difficult to make.

Despite their menacing appearance, these meals are actually relatively easy to prepare.

Both recipes call for slicing potatoes and topping them with sauce in a baking dish.

After that, all that’s left to do is bake them in the oven until they are soft and golden. You’ll quickly become an expert with a little amount of practice.

Choosing Between Scalloped Potatoes and Au Gratin

It can be difficult to decide whether to serve au gratin or scalloped potatoes.

The Top view of appetizing gratin baked potato with cheese and chopped parsley

These two potato dishes are both tasty, creamy, and hearty. However, there are several distinctions that might influence your choice.

Texture

The texture is one of the key distinctions between au gratin and scalloped potatoes.

Scalloped potatoes are normally cut into thin slices and stacked with cream, butter, and occasionally cheese in a baking dish.

The outcome is a texture that melts in your mouth since it is soft and tender.

On the other side, potatoes served au gratin are also thinly sliced but also covered with cream, butter, cheese, and breadcrumbs.

The potatoes underneath stay soft and creamy while the top becomes crispy and crunchy.

Cheesiness

The degree of cheesiness in the two dishes is another distinction. Even while some recipes could call for a little quantity of cheese, scalloped potatoes typically don’t contain it.

This makes it possible for the cream and potato flavors to really stand out.

On the other hand, potatoes au gratin are renowned for their cheesy goodness.

The cheese is spread over the top and stacked between the potatoes to form a crust that is bubbling and golden brown.

Au gratin potatoes may be the best option if you love cheese.

Occasion

The choice between scalloped potatoes and au gratin may also depend on the occasion.

A traditional side dish, scalloped potatoes go well with many different main meals, including roasted chicken, ham, and beef.

They are frequently a mainstay at potlucks and holiday feasts.

On the other hand, au gratin potatoes are a little more luxurious and may be more appropriate for special events or dinner parties.

They go nicely with hearty, savory foods like steak or prime rib.

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Scalloped potatoes vs. au gratin may ultimately come down to personal preference.

When choosing, take into account the occasion, cheesiness, and texture. Whichever food you decide to serve, it will be a hit with everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Potato gratin - graten (baked potatoes with cream and cheese

What is the main difference between scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes?

The main difference between scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes is the addition of cheese. Scalloped potatoes are typically made with thinly sliced potatoes layered in a casserole dish and baked with heavy cream or milk, while au gratin potatoes are made with the addition of cheese, usually grated Parmesan or Gruyere, and breadcrumbs. This addition of cheese gives au gratin potatoes a crispy, golden-brown crust.

Can I use any type of potato for scalloped or au gratin potatoes?

Yes, you can use any type of potato for scalloped or au gratin potatoes. However, it’s important to note that some potatoes are better suited for certain dishes. Russet potatoes, for example, are great for scalloped potatoes because they hold their shape well during baking, while Yukon Gold potatoes are ideal for au gratin potatoes because they have a creamy texture that pairs well with cheese.

Can I make scalloped or au gratin potatoes ahead of time?

Yes, you can make scalloped or au gratin potatoes ahead of time. Both dishes can be assembled and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking. Just be sure to cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent the potatoes from drying out.

Can I freeze scalloped or au gratin potatoes?

Yes, you can freeze scalloped or au gratin potatoes. To freeze, assemble the dish as usual, but do not bake. Instead, cover tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to bake, thaw the dish overnight in the refrigerator and bake as directed.

Can I add other ingredients to scalloped or au gratin potatoes?

Yes, you can add other ingredients to scalloped or au gratin potatoes to customize the dish to your liking. Some popular additions include bacon, onions, garlic, herbs, and even vegetables like spinach or broccoli. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time and temperature accordingly to ensure that the dish cooks evenly.

Potato gratin

Conclusion

In conclusion, both scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin are delectable potato meals that are simple to prepare and ideal for a range of situations.

Both recipes are similar in many ways, yet they also differ significantly in a few important ways.

In order to make scalloped potatoes, potatoes are normally finely sliced, placed in a casserole dish, then cooked with heavy cream or milk.

To improve taste, cream is frequently infused with an aromatic, like fresh herbs or garlic. Scalloped potatoes are frequently offered as a side dish and go well with many different main dishes.

The potatoes used to make au gratin, on the other hand, are thinly sliced potatoes that are piled in a casserole dish and baked with cheese, cream, and breadcrumbs.

The potatoes are a little more decadent than scalloped potatoes because of the crust that the cheese and breadcrumbs build on top.

Potatoes au gratin are frequently offered as a main dish and go well with a side salad or other vegetables.

Take into account the situation and your particular tastes while choosing the potato meal to prepare.

Scalloped potatoes are a terrific option if you’re searching for an easy, warming side dish.

Make potatoes au gratin if you’re in the mood for something a little more decadent.

You will undoubtedly savor the creamy, starchy richness of these traditional potato recipes, regardless of which dish you select.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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